BOYS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Mill Creek’s Jake Magahey

Mill Creek junior Jake Magahey is the Daily Post’s Boys Swimmer of the Year. (Staff Photo: Will Hammock)

Mill Creek junior Jake Magahey typically sets his swimming goals as each season comes up, whether it’s high school, or short-course and long-course with SwimAtlanta.

The long-range goals, a year away, only come on occasion. One happened after the 2018 state high school meet, where he won the 500-yard freestyle championship and broke the Georgia high school record by more than two seconds.

He wanted more, though.

“Last year, I knew my goal from the moment I touched the wall in the 500 free,” he said. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do the next year.”

What he wanted was an ancient high school national record, the 4:16.39 set in 1983 by Californian Jeff Kostoff. That 500 free mark stood over time, though Magahey came tantalizingly close last year as a sophomore — his state time was 4:16.88, less than a half-second off Kostoff’s mark.

The longest race at the state high school meet doesn’t always have a buzz surrounding it, but it did this season as Magahey went after the record, and took it down in 4:15.63.

“It really meant a lot, especially because it was basically the accumulation of 13 years of swimming and just how far I’ve come,” Magahey said. “That record really kind of cemented that. I’ve made a huge jump these past two years, three years, I would say. Last year I missed the record by half a second. Over the summer I missed two (national age group records), one by .01 and other by a little bit less than a second. So to finally get one, a national record like that, means a lot.”

How long Kostoff’s record stood made the milestone even more special for the Daily Post Boys Swimmer of the Year.

“It’s really just crazy to think about (how old the record was),” Magahey said. “My parents were in high school when that happened. It was what, 18 years before I was born. So 36 years is awhile. It’s just really crazy to think about. I feel like I can’t even think about how long it’s been.

“I think it’s very impressive the record was that fast, that long ago. That was before they had all the tech suits and goggles. That was really impressive. I think the 500 itself is getting really faster. I think the 500 as an event is going to get a lot faster in the coming years.”

Magahey has never met Kostoff, now an assistant coach at Stanford, but he knows plenty about him through Chris Davis, his SwimAtlanta coach.

“I heard from Chris that (Kostoff) would have a six-beat kick in a mile, which is one stroke per six kicks basically,” Magahey said. “That’s kind of crazy. Most people can’t do that. I couldn’t do that. I think he’s legend. I have a lot of respect for him from just what I’ve heard about him.”

Magahey’s national record put him in elite status, adding to his long list of accomplishments already in high school swimming. He was state champion in his other event, the 200 free, at this year’s state high school meet with a time of 1:35.62, just off the state record of 1:35.16.

He also swept both of his races at the Gwinnett County meet, breaking his own county and county-meet records in the 200 free with a time of 1:35.31. He also broke the 100 butterfly county and county-meet records with a clocking of 48.47, giving him three county records in three different races this season.

“Jake Magahey has been a huge contributor to the Mill Creek swim team as a swimmer, captain, student, leader and ambassador,” Mill Creek coach Rick Creed said. “Jake is a recipient of our Iron Hawk Award for the third time as a state qualifier in every event and was chosen by his peers for the third year as our Most Valuable Swimmer. Jake is an extremely intelligent (a 4.0 GPA), kind and humble young man that puts his team and teammates ahead of himself.

“He displays outstanding spirit and sportsmanship and he is well respected by his teammates, classmates, coaches, teachers and staff at Mill Creek. He has instilled a great deal of pride in our program within the Mill Creek community.”

College coaches are heavily in pursuit of Magahey with his senior year rapidly approaching. He said he has narrowed his choices down, but declined to make his favorites public.

His swimming focus will be outside of high school competition for the near future, though people still discuss his 500 free record at state. As a junior, he gets one more shot at lowering that mark even more.

“I think that record wasn’t necessarily my best race,” Magahey said. “I wasn’t as composed as I usually am. It wasn’t really a nervous thing. I just didn’t swim it as smart as I probably should have. I can’t really complain because I broke the record, but I think I have a lot better swim than that in me. Chris and I have talked about that before. I’ve been faster than that time before at junior nationals. There’s a fairly decent shot that might happen. We’ll see.”

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Sports editor for the Gwinnett Daily Post. A Gwinnett native documenting Gwinnett County sports with the GDP since 1997.